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Has anyone developed a writing hobby/second career?
Old 11-30-2007, 06:38 AM   #1
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Has anyone developed a writing hobby/second career?

My DW and I are sliding into fire after more then 60 years (jointly) of work in our professions. We plan to drop to three day/week work averages in 2008, with a total FIRE 1 to 2 years later. We are both mid-50's. From both savings and an inheritance we plan a lovely FIRE, with a $50,000+ travel budget a few years out.

My real questions surrounds my desire to write book length projects. I believe that I have some talent, and life experience, to apply to my writing. I'm more concerned about how to successfully navigate publishing my book(s). Has anyone "walked this road"?

Here's a sample:


They found the first body a block from the clinic. Marine Gunnery Sergeant Marcus Smith pulled the palm fronds covering the body away while the other American bent down over the corpse. Navy Lt. John Johnson knew the man was dead before he bent down. The body’s arms had been hacked off, and the skull split like a melon. The man’s ears were gone, probably chopped off as a trophy of the kill. It was a sight ghastly enough to instantly sicken most people, but the lieutenant just straightened up and looked over at Gunny Smith. “I thought the civil war and RUF atrocities ended ten years ago”. Lt. Johnson was an MD, freshly out of residency, and an even more recently brevetted full lieutenant in the United States Navy.

“I’ve been hearing rumbles about these new wild boys since we arrived last month, sir. The top sergeant down at the embassy has been getting real concerned.” We are just about on our own out here, thought Smith. Sierra Leone is the most f’d place I’ve ever been, and that includes bum f’ing Baghdad. He thought back to his assignment to “baby sit” this bleeding heart clinic that the nut case politicians in Washington had set up down here. With twenty nine years in the Corps, this was the last assignment before his retirement. Smith’s thoughts were interrupted by the lieutenant’s hand on his arm. He looked up at the lieutenant. This guy is at least six foot four, and weighs 230. He’s the biggest doctor I’ve ever seen. Really big for a white guy. Smith then looked past his commanding officer, down the trash strewn street to a burning pile of clothes and old tires. “What is that?” Johnson asked.

As they walked towards the fire, Smith had a sinking feeling as he realized what they were looking at. The flaming pile of clothes and tires was another body, this one with the infamous African flaming tire necklace. Pant covered legs, with shoes still on the feet, stuck out from the burning tire. Smith stopped Johnson, and motioned him to walk back towards the clinic. Smith also drew his sidearm and clicked off the safety. Instead of the standard 9mm NATO sidearm, Smith carried the old Browning Model 1911 .45 caliber semi-automatic. He fondly remembered the words of his old Marine pistol instructor from so many years ago. “ It’s not the most accurate pistol in the world, boys, but it will put a man smack down.” Smith had held almost religiously to the .45, even has the Marines had adopted the newer NATO sidearm. In his hand it felt like an old friend.

Lt. Johnson looked over at the tall, tough black man next to him. I wouldn’t want come up against this guy. God, what’s he been in; Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, two, no, three Iraq tours. Then he thought, My dad is showing up tomorrow, with all those supplies for the clinic. I hope we can get him in and out of here without any trouble.


Work is the curse of the partying class!
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Old 11-30-2007, 10:37 AM   #2
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Welcome. No experience to offer on getting a book published. I have, however, from time to time engaged in some thinking and reading about writing and selling non-fiction articles.

But I have yet to actually write something, even after all my thinking and reading on the subject.

You, on the other hand, have written something. You are light years ahead of where I am. I'd say do some reading from Writer's Digest stable of books on the subject of getting published. There are plenty out there. Writer's Digest has a book club where you can get lots of helpful material reasonably priced. And I am sure your local library can help in this area as well.

In addition, there are writer's forums and newsletters, do some googling for them.

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Old 11-30-2007, 11:52 AM   #3
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After retiring I thought I had a book in me, and was interested in publishing it, not just writing it. I took a class from a local, successfully published writer who has gone on to publish more, nationally.

Her take-home lessons were: join or start a writer's group so you can get weekly or monthly feedback on your work, and motivation to continue. Also, attend clinics large enough to have agents attending. You can publish without an agent, or self-publish, but if you can get an agent you have a lot better chance to get on with a large publisher. A large publisher may get you more exposure, but will also take most of the profits (if any).

It's a very competitive field, writing. Everyone wants to write, fewer want to read. But if you're motivated you'll succeed at some level. If you don't try, it'll probably drive you crazy, or you're not meant to be a writer.

Her advice helped me get some smaller things published locally, getting my feet wet. It's been personally rewarding. The book is on the back burner but I feel empowered if I get the passion back. In the meantime I'm having too much fun for writing much.

Best wishes on your endeavor.
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Old 12-01-2007, 01:36 AM   #4
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My wife is just finishing up her first book, and I recently started writing mine. We have no advice for you, but we are going to keep up with this thread for the good tips!

In watching her go through the process, it really is just about diligence...
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Old 12-01-2007, 07:28 AM   #5
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I have no idea about publishing, sales, successful marketing. All I know is I sometimes have this compulsion come over me to write and , well then I write. All that has ever ended up in print (or electrons) has been stories in local kayak club newsletters. Other things I write I have shared with friends & family. I will continue to write and if anything somehow comes out interesting I will see about publishing it.
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:12 AM   #6
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I wrote the first chapter of a book six years ago, and haven't looked at it until just now. I like it. But I'm saving that more sedentary hobby until later. Should be fun.

I recommend the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published; at one point I'd considered writing, together with DD, a cookbook for kids who had braces.
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:47 PM   #7
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I guess one bit of advice I would offer is be very leary of the vanity publishers---these are the folks where you pay them to publish your book--then you end up with piles of unsold books that cost you a small fortune. I am not saying avoid self-publishing, just be very eyes-wide-open. One can self-publish without necessarily dealing with the "vanity publishers".

Other than that, here are some links may be of interest to aspiring writers:

Writer's Digest Magazine - Writing books, competitions and other resources for writers
The Writer : The essential resource for writers
Publishers Weekly - International Book & Bookselling News, Reviews, Bestsellers
Book marketing and book promotion advice from John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books (get free eletter with weekly marketing tips)
Welcome to! (get another free eletter monthly)
FREELANCE WRITING . COM : Helping Freelance Writers to Succeed since 1997
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Old 12-02-2007, 02:33 AM   #8
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Writing a book sounds too much like work,I'll stick with the "you write em and I'll read em" philosophy .
"Second star to the right and straight on till morning"
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Old 12-02-2007, 04:33 AM   #9
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There are several people on this boad who have created succesful second careers as writers. There are likely more, but ESR Bob, Billy and Akaisha and SGEEEE pop into mind.

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Old 12-02-2007, 07:42 AM   #10
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You can start out by writing articles and/or short stories and selling them to periodicals. I started while working in my "real" and unrelated career and continued a few years past retirement.

Retired in 2001 at age 49.
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